Science - September 8, 2005

A – Z of Wageningen

Just arrived in Wageningen? To ease you into daily life in the Netherlands, Wb has put together the ultimate survival guide.

A pple
Most popular fruit in the Netherlands. Maybe because you can eat them while cycling. Sometimes served as apple sauce, a side dish so at least some vegetables get eaten for dinner. You can buy fruit at the supermarket, but you’ll find good quality fruit for less money at the market. Every Wednesday from 8.30h-13.00h for fresh produce, cheese, chicken, cloth and sewing materials and Saturday 8.30h-17.00h for fresh produce, in the centre of town.

B read
Eaten for breakfast and lunch. As shops are not open before eight in the morning, you’ll have to make do with stale bread for breakfast if you have to get up early for classes. If you like bread, stay away from most types of bread from the supermarket. It has little taste, is sticky, always sliced and not at all satisfying. Some bakeries in town have a better supply. If you long for the bread you’re used to eating at home, consider buying a bread baking machine, which automatically kneads and bakes the bread. Prices for new machines vary between 35 and 80 euros. You can use the timer so you can wake up to the smell of fresh bread. Check the internet, friends or family for a recipe, or experiment. The windmill on the Harnjesweg sells a wide range of flour.

C ondoms
To enjoy sex safely, use condoms. They give you and your partner good protection against both sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. In the Netherlands condoms are widely available at chemist's (drogist), some supermarkets and often also in the toilets of bars. The cheapest condoms in Wageningen are from the WSO cheap shop (Reduktieburo). Here, the popular Durex Glyders cost only 11 cents each. The expression 'going double Dutch' refers to the use of a condom and oral contraceptive (the pill) at the same time, thus further reducing the risk of pregnancy. This is said to be common practice in the Netherlands.

D rop
The most popular candy in the Netherlands. Consuming 30 million kg of drop each year – an average of almost 2 kg per person per year – Dutch people don’t seem to be able to get enough of it. Since you are in the ‘land of drop’, you should definitely try it. But beware, before you put one in your mouth, look around for a trashcan. Don’t be afraid to spit it out. Only a few people manage to keep it in their mouth the first time they eat it. There are sweet and salty varieties. Most people try to get rid of the nasty black thing as soon as the salt starts biting their tongue.

E mmaus
The place to go for furniture for your room, books, electrical devices and other practical stuff. In its fight against the consumer society, Emmaus sells all sorts of second-hand-stuff for low prices. The profits go to needy people, especially those who are homeless, giving them a chance to rebuild their lives. Emmaus is located at Heerenstraat 8 and open on Wednesday from 10.00 till 13.00h and on Saturday from 13.00 to 16.00h. Also try the other second-hand-store, de Kringloop at Markt 27, which even has a cheap computer shop.

F latkroeg
The name for the bar underneath the high-rise student buildings in Wageningen. Each flatkroeg is run by volunteers. They are non-profit so prices are low. Under the Bornsesteeg is ‘Borney’s’ where you can meet friends, have a drink, play cards or throw darts. Borney’s is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 22.00h. You are also welcome in the other flatkroegen, like de ‘Woeste Hoeve’ in Hoevestein, the ‘Bunker’ underneath Dijkgraaf, famous for its wild parties on Tuesdays, and on Thursdays you can go to ‘Annie’s’ beneath Asserpark.

G ezellig
Typical Dutch word, used frequently to indicate that people like the atmosphere. It is hard to translate, but the English 'cosy' comes close, as does ‘convivial’. Many foreigners find the word hard to pronounce due to the loud 'g's, which require a rasping sound in the throat. When at a party, use the expression 'gezellig hè?!' regularly, and you will easily blend in with the Dutch guests. Other typical expressions are 'lekker' (for nice food or drinks, and sometimes attractive people), 'eet smakelijk' (enjoy your meal) and 'doei' (bye-bye).

H ashish (or hash)
Together with marijuana (or weed) the best-known soft drug product from the cannabis plant. Marijuana is made from the flowering tops of the female hemp plant, while hashish is the more concentrated resin from these tops pressed into blocks. Officially the possession of soft or hard drugs is not permitted. However, for cannabis the Dutch police tolerate a small amount of up to 5 grams for 'personal use'. If you are found with larger amounts, the police will prosecute. In the Netherlands neither the use nor the possession of any hard drugs (such as heroin, cocaine or amphetamines) is allowed.

International Student Organization of Wageningen. Besides their monthly party at Unitas, they provide several courses, including dancing, yoga, theatre, photography and also language courses. You can become a member for three months (3 euros), half a year (5 euros) or for a full year (10 euros). For more information send an e-mail to Other places that are easy for international students to join are KSV International, the youth club Unitas and the International Association of Agricultural Students (IAAS). All organise special activities for international students, which are a good way of getting to know Dutch and other international students.

J acket
Don’t leave your wallet, telephone, bankcards, ID, keys or other valuable items in the pockets of your jacket when you leave it unattended. University buildings and institutes also are visited by pickpockets every once in a while. Also check your pockets when you hang your jacket on a hook in a café or pub. On busy nights jackets sometimes get lost, and you don’t want to risk staying the night at a stranger’s place because you lost the keys to your house, do you?

K roket
Popular Dutch snack, together with the frikadel. Every year Dutch people eat about 300 million kroketten – an average of 18 per person per year - and nearly twice as many frikadellen. Both snacks consist of meat with spices and are fried before consumption. As the name suggests a kroket (or croquette) has a crunchy outside, whereas the frikadel is more like a sausage without a crust. In some places, such as railway stations, you can buy snacks 'from the wall'. These snacks are ready to eat and on display behind a small glass door, which you can open after inserting the required amount in coins.

L ibrary
If you haven’t developed an aversion to books after being buried in your study books all day, you might want to visit the public library. They also have literature in English and French and some foreign newspapers in the reading room. You can borrow movies on DVD and video tape, and music CDs, all at low cost. Membership costs 16 euros a year. Bring your passport or college card to register. ISOW also has a small but free library with popular literature. Or exchange books with friends.

M ovie W
A cinema that shows art movies from all over the world and in their original language. Movie W is located in the building LA13 at the corner of Lawickse Allee and Costerweg. Reservations are necessary: 0317-484809. If you want to see more mainstream movies, there is a good chance the ‘Heerenstraattheater’ is showing one. This cinema is located at the corner of Heerenstraat and Molenstraat. For an even wider choice of movies, you can rent a video or DVD at one of the two video shops in Wageningen.

N ude
It might seem a joke, but Wageningen really does have a neighbourhood, a street and a primary school called the ‘Nude’. They are named after the low area between Wageningen and Rhenen, west of town. The name Nude originates from the old Germanic word niud, meaning swamp or swampy hollow. The only real nude in Wageningen is ‘Naked Jan’, the statue on the 5 Mei plein, in remembrance of the Second World War.

O pening hours
In Wageningen generally from 9.00 till 18.00h, but there are some exceptions. Shops are closed on Sundays and don’t open on Mondays till 13.00h. On Friday shops stay open late till 21.00, but Saturday they close already at 17.00. Supermarkets do take into account people who work late and stay open till at least 20.00, and some even till 21.00 (e.g. Albert Heijn, Edah). Supermarkets are closed on Sundays too.

P ublic transport
In theory a good way to travel around, but you will always hear Dutch people complaining about the railway system. It is expensive and trains never seem to be on time. Also, make sure you buy a ticket before getting on the train. You can’t buy one in the train and dodging the fare will cost you at least 35 euros. There are ticket machines at all railway stations, but instructions are in Dutch. Don’t be afraid to ask someone if you don’t understand, but keep an eye on your luggage and wallet. The machines don’t sell bus tickets. You can buy a strippenkaart for buses and trams at post offices, supermarkets and tobacco shops.

Q uiz
Is your head stuffed with all kinds of petty facts or are you just a know-it-all? Take your friends to Café Tuck and astonish them with your knowledge at the weekly quiz night on Tuesdays. Questions are also in English. The quiz has eight rounds of ten questions, with one round of pictures and one of sounds. It starts at 20.00h prompt, so be there by 19.45h at the latest. Costs 2.50 euro, including the first drink. A team has anywhere between 2 and about 5 players.

R ain
Form of precipitation typical of the Dutch weather, consisting of drops of water falling from a cloud. About 760 mm of rain falls on average in the Netherlands each year. Due to the high temperature of the North Sea, the biggest showers occur in summer; however autumn is the wettest period. October has about 60 hours of rain and in November there are only of 59 hours of sun. Welcome to the Netherlands! A raincoat might prove a very useful purchase, especially for use on a bike as an umbrella will not cover your legs.

S quatters
In the late seventies young people started squatting because of the housing shortage and as a protest against capitalist speculators. The Dutch culture of collective bargaining has even provided rules formalising the occupation of someone else’s premises. One is that you pay for gas, water and electricity. Over the years, some squatters have even been able the rent or buy the buildings they first squatted in. Wageningen also has its own squatting history and there are currently several squats. In a reaction to squatters, property owners and specialised companies now organise people to inhabit premises that are temporarily empty to prevent these places from deteriorating and being squatted (antikraak). Living like this is less of a protest, and you can be thrown out at very short notice, but the rent is low and you might end up in an extraordinary and often spacious place.

T elephone
Telephones are ideal for keeping in touch with your friends and family. Nowadays there are many good alternatives to a land line (fixed connection). Especially if you do not plan to stay very long, a prepaid mobile connection might be a good option for you. Offers including a simple cell phone start from forty euros. If you already own a mobile phone, you can opt for a SIM-only connection: prepaid (from ten euros) or subscription (deals from as little as three euros a month). For calling abroad the cheapest way is to use calling cards or alternative carriers (such as of these can also be used when calling from a (Dutch) mobile phone. Students with an internet connection (available at most SSHW rooms) and computer with headset can also call via internet (VoIP). See for example Skype (see

U iterwaarden
The name for the flood plain area between town and the river Rhine. Many people hang out, barbeque and swim there in summertime. Be aware that it is a fast flowing river with a current that has claimed some lives. The shipping traffic also makes it unsafe and the water is not totally clean. Nevertheless in all seasons it’s fun to take a walk along the river or through the nature reserve there. Don’t forget to take your garbage home with you!

V itamins
You don’t have to get out of bed every afternoon with a hangover, a sore throat, bags under your eyes, a painful arm and knowing you’re broke, to be a great student. First, Dutch tap water is of excellent quality and very cheap. Second, try drop (see D) or quit smoking. Third, understand that facial crèmes and masks never work and admit that you’re not being a loser if you go to bed before midnight. Fourth, unwind when doing computer work and regularly perform silly walks and moves. Fifth: no offence, but vitamins don’t make student life any easier.

W ilhelmus
The national anthem of the Netherlands. It is an ‘acrostic’, which means the first letters of each verse together spell out another message, in this case ‘Willem van Nassov’, the ancient name of the prince the song is about. In the sixteenth century he led the war against Spain and laid the foundation for the union of the Netherlands, which then became a kingdom. In general only the first and sometimes also the sixth verse are sung. Make sure you can sing along before the world cup football starts in Germany early June 2006!

Probably the average height of Dutch people, as they are the tallest in the world. Last year the average height of Dutch men was 183.2 cm. Women reached 170.6 cm. It is still unclear what causes these giant heights. Some joke that it is because Dutch people need to keep their heads above water as almost a quarter of the Netherlands lies below sea level. Others say it is caused by a very healthy standard of living, with good food and safe drinking water, and children have fewer illnesses due to vaccines. However, there is no scientific proof for this.

Y oga
The perfect way to find a balance between body and mind when you are all stressed out from studying. Courses are given by ISOW, but also by the University Sports Centre ‘de Bongerd’, which offers many other sports as well. Gyms, squash and tennis courts, a cinder track, soccer fields, an outdoor climbing wall and a fitness hall are all part of the Sports Centre. You need a sports card to make use of the facilities, but it is also valid for the swimming pool next door. You can get it at the reception of the Bongerd. On weekdays the sports centre is open from 8.30 to 24.00h.

Z ebra crossing
Pedestrian crossing marked by white stripes on the road. Here, all traffic has to give way to the pedestrians trying to cross the street. Most students use a bike for getting around Wageningen. Make sure your bike has a working bell and lights. The Wageningen police tend to check these frequently around the start of the new academic year. If you get caught, you risk a fine of at least 35 euros.

Jasper Harms, Laurien Holtjer, Yvonne de Hilster